Bowden: Have heart, guard your heart

Published 8:12 pm Monday, August 24, 2015

By I.C. Murrell

The News sports editor

BEAUMONT — Bobby Bowden’s speech during Lamar’s kickoff banquet Sunday evening might have been more storytelling than it was motivational, but it was a little bit of advice from the Florida State coaching great that stood out in Lamar coach Ray Woodard’s mind.

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“[Having] heart and believing in what you’re doing,” Woodard said, less than two weeks away from his sixth season opener with the Cardinals against Bacone College. “Just having that belief that you can get it done.”

Woodard’s beliefs about the Cardinals’ prospects in the always-difficult Southland Conference have only been sky high during preseason camp. He reiterated to the hundreds in attendance at Ford Park Arena that this year’s team could be the best he’s had at Lamar.

“We’ve got most of our team back with more experience, and we’re deeper than we were last year,” he said.

The banquet serves in large part as a fundraiser for Lamar athletics (even a Florida State helmet and jersey autographed by Bowden was auctioned), but the fairly youthful 85-year-old was without question the main attraction. The two-time national championship coach (1993 and 1999) at Florida State used Roger Bannister’s sub-4 minute mark in 1954 — the first ever — as an example that unprecedented success in a long time can be achieved.

“Why did they all break it after he did? “ Bowden said. “He showed it could be done. And the other men who did it, they believed.”

It was a timely message for a Lamar team that won eight games for the first time in 40 years last season. It’s also, perhaps, another reason Woodard believes Lamar than take another step toward prominence in its football resurrection.

Noted for his strong faith, Bowden quoted Proverbs 4:23 — “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it,” the New International Version reads — when talking about playing with heart. He followed that by recalling the story of a standout Illinois player who returned to the team shortly after his mother died during the 1939 season to help the Fighting Illini upset undefeated and second-ranked Michigan.


Bowden told a story of driving through Quincy, Florida, which is located nearby Florida State’s campus in Tallahassee off Interstate 10, and having his license plate snapped by an overhead camera every time he drove past it.

Bowden made five trips past the camera and was certain he lowered his speed each time. The speed limit, he said, was 35 mph.

“I got out of the car and I cussed that daggum camera out,” Bowden said. “I said, I ain’t paying y’all a daggum penny. This is a ripoff. I did not break the speed limit, and I ain’t going to pay y’all.”

Two weeks later, he received a letter from the sheriff’s office.

“I got five tickets for not wearing a seat belt. That’s the way the ball bounces.”

He never said whether he paid a penny on those tickets.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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